UK taxpayers’ cash is being spent trying to snare trade deals instead of helping reduce poverty, MPs have revealed.
MPs have found several examples how the Prosperity Fund is being spent on spurious projects instead of helping the poorest people in the world. The Prosperity Fund’s primary objective is poverty reduction, with a secondary benefit of creating business opportunities.
The UK is legally committed to spending 0.7 per cent of gross national income on ODA but the cross-party International Development Committee called for money to be focused on poverty reduction. MPs heard concerns from aid organisations that UK spending seemed designed to boost trade links rather than help some of the world’s poorest people.
The MPs said: ‘The heavy emphasis of the Prosperity Fund upon promoting UK trade risks losing the rightful emphasis of the fund upon the primacy of poverty reduction, and is a step towards the return of tied aid.’
Pointing the finger at Boris Johnson’s Foreign Office, the MPs said: ‘Amongst the FCO-administered Prosperity Fund projects, we found many weaker examples including projects to develop the Chinese film industry, improve the Chinese museum infrastructure and improve the credit bond rating system in China.’ The committee added ‘it is unclear to us how these types of interventions will benefit the very poorest people’.
Committee chairman MP Stephen Twigg said: ‘Almost three quarters of the world’s poorest people live in middle income countries but it is unclear to us how some projects – especially those under the banner of the Prosperity Fund – benefit the very poorest, marginalised or most vulnerable communities.’